Children's Corner


Children's Corner

Children's Corner (L. 113) is a six-movement suite for solo piano by Claude Debussy. It was published by Durand in 1908, and was given its world première in Paris by Harold Bauer on December 18 of that year. In 1911, an orchestration of the work by Debussy's friend André Caplet received its première and was subsequently published and there is a forthcoming version for organ by Michael Hey. A typical performance of the suite lasts roughly 15 minutes.

Contents

Dedication

It is dedicated to Debussy's daughter, Claude-Emma (known as "Chou-Chou"), who was three years old at the time. The pieces are not intended to be played by children; rather they are meant to be evocative of childhood and some of the toys in Claude-Emma's toy collection.

Claude-Emma was born on October 30, 1905 in Paris, and is described as a lively and friendly child who was adored by her father. She died of diphtheria on July 14, 1919, scarcely a year after her father's death.

Structure

There are six pieces in the suite, each with an English-language title. This choice of language is most likely Debussy's nod towards Chou-Chou's English governess. The pieces are:

  1. Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum
  2. Jimbo's Lullaby
  3. Serenade for the Doll
  4. The Snow is Dancing
  5. The Little Shepherd
  6. Golliwogg's Cakewalk

The pieces

Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum

The title of the first alludes to Muzio Clementi's collection of instructional piano pieces, Gradus ad Parnassum ("steps to Mount Parnassus|Parnassus"). The "Gradus ad Parnassum" was one of the most frequently-used exercise books in France at the time, similar in sound to the Czerny exercises. In the middle, the pianist slows down and tries his material in other keys for exercise. Debussy's Doctor Gradus Ad Parnassum is of intermediate difficulty and requires experienced fingers. The pianist gets wilder toward the end.

Jimbo's Lullaby

This work describes an elephant, Jumbo, who came from the French Sudan and lived briefly in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris around the time of Debussy's birth. The misspelling "Jimbo" betrays the Parisian accent which often confuses the pronunciation of "um" and "un" with "im" and "in". It is a beautiful lullaby with some dark moments and whole-tone passages in the middle. Debussy quotes the French lullaby "Do, do, l'enfant do," several times in the course of the piece and uses the interval of the major second, sometimes as a taunting song so prevalent in European music.

Serenade of the Doll

This piece, in triple meter, is marked Allegretto ma non troppo (moderately fast, but not too fast). It is a description of an Oriental porcelain doll and features the Chinese pentatonic scale throughout. Debussy notes that the entire piece should be played with the soft pedal. Some pianists contend that Debussy really meant "Serenade For the Doll".

The Snow is Dancing

Technically, this piece is quite difficult as it requires precise semi-detached playing in both hands with the melody between them. Again, there are a darker moments in the bass near the middle. Thanks to the composer's remarkable color effects, it manages to describe snow - not rain - and muted objects seen through it.

The Little Shepherd

Here, we have three flute solos in three contrasting moods and insightful commentaries after each one. The first solo actually has a breath mark at the end.

Golliwogg's Cakewalk

Tristan quote in Children's Corner.png

At the time of its composition, Golliwogs were all the rage. They were stuffed black dolls with red pants, red bow ties and wild hair, somewhat reminiscent of the black-face minstrels of the time. This is a ragtime piece with its syncopations and banjo-like effects. The dynamic range is quite large and very effective. The B section of this dance is interrupted on several occasions by the opening of Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde, marked avec une grande émotion (with great feeling). Each quotation is followed with banjo imitations. The cakewalk was a dance or a strut and the dancer with the most elaborate steps won a cake ("took the cake").

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Children's corner — (littéralement « Le Coin des enfants ») est une suite de six pièces pour piano seul composée par Claude Debussy entre 1906 et 1908. Il l a dédiée à sa fille alors âgée de trois ans, Claude Emma (1905 1919), plus connue sous le surnom de …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Children's Corner — (littéralement « Le Coin des enfants ») est une suite de six pièces pour piano seul composée par Claude Debussy entre 1906 et 1908. Il l a dédiée à sa fille alors âgée de trois ans, Claude Emma (1905 1919), plus connue sous le surnom de …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Children’s Corner — Golliwogg’s Cake walk: das ragtimeartige Thema Children’s Corner (englisch, zu deutsch „Kinderecke“) ist ein Werk des französischen Komponisten Claude Debussy; der Untertitel lautet Petite Suite pour Piano seul (französisch, zu deutsch „Kleine… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Children's Corner — Golliwogg’s Cake walk: das ragtimeartige Thema Children’s Corner (engl. „Kinderecke“) ist ein Werk des französischen Komponisten Claude Debussy; der Untertitel lautet Petite Suite pour Piano seul (frz. „Kleine Suite für Klavier allein“).… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Children's corner (Debussy) — Children s Corner Children s Corner (littéralement « Le Coin des enfants ») est une suite de six pièces pour piano seul composée par Claude Debussy entre 1906 et 1908. Il l a dédiée à sa fille alors âgée de trois ans, Claude Emma (1905… …   Wikipédia en Français

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